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Robert Brym

3/22 Lecture **I decided to try a different note taking technique so no point form in this one****I didnt make it to the last lecture and hence could not post it. I got the recording and now can give it to someone who doesn't still have it** THE ENVIRONMENT Colonel Paul Tibbets, USAF, waves from the cockpit of the B-29 Super fortress that he nicknamed Enola Gay, after his mother. About four hours after this photo was taken on 6 August 1945, Tibbets dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, killing 200,000 Japanese. Social scientists and historians like to think of that day (august 6th, 1945) as the day that divides the 20th century in half. This is because before this time, people thought scientific technology development improved human life. (Technology is often defined as the application of scientific principles to the improvement of human life). With the bomb drop in Hiroshima, however, pessimism started growing. In fact, the pessimism of technology started early, during the development of the nuclear bomb and only strengthened after World War 2. This is because, a series of technological disasters struck, which caused the eyes of many people to open up (one example is of the Bhopal incident). Influenced by this thinking, one sociologist introduced the concept of Normal Accidents. These occur because the very complexity of modern technologies ensures they will inevitably fail, though in unpredictable ways (ex: our windows 7 computers are very complex and they end up crashing). In a risk society, technology distributes danger and advantage among all social groups, although some groups are more exposed than others are. This danger doesnt result from simple normal accidents, but there are more widespread and chronic threats, like environmental factors, which can lead to a risk society. These environmental threats can be incited by our advancement of our technology. However, environmental threats are much more ambiguous as compared to direct technological threats. Certain environmental threats, caused by technological advancement, are finally beginning to be accepted in our societies (like global warming, ocean layer depletion, green house effect, etc.). We clearly now have problems. However, how can we solve these problems? A great deal of sacrificing is necessary on everyones part, in addition to improved and changed technology. Global warming and Polar Ice: Fossil fuel burning to create energy is a concept that has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution. This burning however creates many gases which start collecting in the atmosphere. The sun heats the surface of the earth constantly, and the surface reflects a lot of this heat back into the atmosphere. Where under normal circumstances, the heat would leave the earth, more and more heat enters the atmosphere than escapes become some of it is absorbed and some of it is reflected back by the blanket of heat-trapping gases. Heat melts ice, revealing tundra, which creates even more effective heat-trapping gases are produced and released into the atmosphere. Water reflects less heat than ice does because it is darker, which essentially speeds up global warming. The average surface temperature given in the world fluctuates from year to year, but the trend is certainly upwards, at least from 1960 and on. After 1960s, there is a much more significant upward trend in the amount of CO2 (heat trapping gas) in parts per million by volume. So what? This leads to more flooding, poor air quality, more frequent storms, and erosion of land. This essentially leads to more deaths of people through not just storms, but also inability to cultivate land to grow food. Looking at NASA calculations, we find that the Global Warming effects began in the northern hemisphere, before they started spreading to the world. This climate change has resulted in a decrease in the sizes of polar ice caps, and consequently increased sea levels. Nevertheless, global warming is not only increasing the risk of flooding in the world, it is also leading to ocean acidification due to the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Genetic Pollution: There has also been an increase in Genetic pollution. Genetic pollution refers to the health and ecological dangers that may result from artificially splicing genes together. Recombinant DNA is a technique that involves artificially joining bits of DNA from a donor to the DNA of a host. This has been done in the past, where people have combined the DNA of fireflies and tobacco plants, such that the final result has been glowing plants at night. This is however ancient history! There is much more research being done, which can allow for amazing new innovations. There is a possibility of being capable of eliminating all genes, which cause disease in humans, or even helping in agriculture, mining, etc. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that there are risks that are also resulting through this DNA modification. For example, there is more and more use of DNA modification in agricultural facilities. They are producing products that are more resistant to bugs, temperature, etc. However, there is a simple evolutionary fact that works against this DNA modification. Bugs, and pests (weeds) that are more capable of attacking and affecting the modified plants, will grow in numbers as other more conventional bugs would decline in number. This would lead to a greater concentration of pests that are now immune to the modified product, and if these bugs spread diseases, they would probably spread diseases that are hardier and immune to conventional medication drugs. Differentiating between an issue and a problem, an issue tends to be something that needs to be fixed. A problem, or more specifically, a social problem, is what the world claims to be an issue and shows concern in reducing the scope of this issue. Environmental issues become social problems when three main conditions are met. First, policy-oriented scientists, the environmental movement,the mass media, and respected organizations discover and promote the issues. Without this step, there is barely any recognition of the issue. Second, people must connect real-life events to the information learned from these groups. Individuals have the tendency to only care for things that matter to them. If they can relate to these advertised environmental issues, their awareness and desire to eradicate the issue will strongly increase. Third, scientists, industrial interests, and politicians who dispute the existence of environmental threats must fail to convince the public that the threat is illusory and human intervention is unnecessary. When these conditions are met, only then are we capable of concluding that an issue has become a social problem. Different countries, different classes, and different areas receive different degrees of damage from the same environmental threats. For example, if a tornado strikes, trailer parks are likely to have received the most damage, as compared to houses made of stone. A researcher divided the United States into different zip code areas. He found the proportion of black people, white people and hispanic people in each zip code area. On average, zip code areas that lacked blacks and Hispanic people had smaller chances of having toxic dumpsites, landfills, etc. Conversely, toxic dumpsites, landfills, and other facilities of this sort generally tended to exist more in areas that were populated with less white people and more black and Hispanic people. Looking at a Canadian example, we find that provinces that
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